The Tragic Cruelty of “Radical Inclusion”
[…] In order to avoid a huge battle about a year into the life of a new church, we can obviate a lot of pain and heartache by clearly articulating at the start, in the form of a clear ministry and mission statement and plan, where things are going. When the direction is clear, some people may not join in the vision, but that is not a bad thing. Having people yoked with us who pull in a different direction is not creative; rather, it dissipates energy and robs fruit. Diversity in some ways can offer some spice to life, but it is not always helpful. In fact, it can be utterly destructive.
The amazingly successful campaign of Barak Obama promising “Hope and Change” was similar. Most people who heard that promise assumed that he was talking about changes that they wanted to see that would give them hope. In fact, President Obama introduced many changes that were very different from the changes people were expecting or desiring. He would very likely not have have been elected (or, for that matter, re-elected) if he had been clear that his changes were going to be things like federal funding of abortion, executive orders promoting abortion, and support for same-sex marriage. His most liberal base would have been happy, but lots of folks in the middle who voted for him were not looking for such stridence.
It is often the case that inspiring oratory draws people, but it is critically important that the context be understood. It is entirely possible that what is said may actually mean something very different from what a superficial reading might suggest.
Last week, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby offered an impassioned speech calling for the Church to develop “radical new inclusion.” He did not define those terms, but instead relied on the warm fuzzy feelings those words elicit. On the surface, those who follow Christ experience resonance with those sorts of words. Who would not want the Church to reach out and include people in the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ? Those of us who have experienced radical transformation are not afraid of those who need to be transformed!
This latest comment is not dramatically new. The Church of England has been dealing with similar issues for (in my personal experience) more than forty years. In fact, I suspect that it has been going on much longer than that, but it is not sexuality alone that is at issue. There have been egregious examples of faulty Christology, lack of Biblical authority, and squishiness about fundamental doctrines such as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection.
Archbishop Welby’s comments on sexuality were not offered in a vacuum. For decades, the Episcopal Church has been calling for “Radical Inclusion.” When ABP Welby referenced the “disagreement” in the church, he did it this way: